The Chinese city of Wuhan marked one year since the start of its traumatic 76-day coronavirus lockdown Saturday, while the pandemic raged elsewhere and governments scrambled to put in place new measures.
Europe faced a worsening struggle with production woes hitting supply of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.
Around the world, more than 2.1 million people have died of COVID-19 since it emerged in China in December 2019, with over 98 million infected.
In the world's worst-hit country, US President Joe Biden warned America's death toll could pass 600,000, the highest estimate yet that would mark a devastating rise on the 400,000 fatalities so far.
But the picture was vastly different in Wuhan, where humming traffic, bustling sidewalks, and citizens packing parks and public transport underscored the scale of the recovery in the metropolis of 11 million where the pathogen first emerged before going global."I think Wuhan is quite safe now, safer than my hometown and most places in China," 21-year-old resident Wang Yizhe said.
Elsewhere in China, new outbreaks have prompted harsh responses.
Thousands of Hong Kongers in Jordan, one of the city's poorest and most densely-packed districts, were ordered to stay home Saturday unless they can show a negative test, in the city's first lockdown.
- 'Deep dissatisfaction' -
AstraZeneca told AFP late Friday that "lower yield" at one of its vaccine-making sites would affect deliveries across Europe.
Lithuania estimated it would receive 80 percent fewer AstraZeneca doses than hoped in the first quarter, although German and French ministers tried to reassure the public of a steady supply.
Deliveries of Pfizer-made shots to the continent's countries are already behind schedule as the US firm upgrades capacity at a Belgian plant.
At a meeting with AstraZeneca representatives, the EU Commission "insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which member states should be planning their vaccination programs", Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted.
Already cleared for use in Britain, EU authorities are expected to give the vaccine the green light at the end of January.
On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was "some evidence" the new strain first detected in the country "may be associated with a higher degree of mortality" as well as being more infectious.
At 95,981 as of Friday, the UK death toll is the highest in Europe.
The World Health Organization reassured that fabric masks should still work in hindering the spread of new variants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
However, Norwegian capital Oslo toughened health restrictions after the British variant was found in a retirement home, closing all but essential shops and asking people to restrict movements.
A French government source told AFP a new lockdown in the country looked increasingly likely with the more transmissible strain.
Meanwhile the Netherlands introduced its first curfew since World War II, from 9 pm until 4:30 am.
- 'Surging' -
Across the Atlantic, newly-installed President Biden stepped up federal aid even as he gave his highest estimate yet of the eventual toll.
"The virus is surging," he said. "We're at 400,000 dead, expected to reach well over 600,000."
And in the Colombian capital of Bogota, residents were under their third weekend quarantine in a row, meaning the closure of all non-essential shops in the city of eight million from Friday at 8 pm until Monday at 4 am.
In Mexico, where hospitals have been overwhelmed and over 146,000 have died, people are queueing for hours to buy oxygen to care for the growing numbers fighting coronavirus at home.
Brazilian scientists have meanwhile warned that the country faces running out of vaccine doses and basic equipment like syringes, just as its vaccination campaign gets underway -- with some blaming government for the shortages.
- Origins probe -
In Wuhan, a team of World Health Organization experts was still in hotel quarantine ahead of a mission to investigate the source of the virus.
"All hypotheses are on the table," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference in Geneva.
"And it is definitely too early to come to a conclusion of exactly where this virus started, either within or without China."
But there was good news Friday for poorer nations, as the WHO and pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer announced a deal for up to 40 million initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be made available to them through the Covax global pool.
A separate deal, brokered by international agencies working with the WHO, will supply developing nations with tens of millions of rapid antigen tests at half the usual $5 price.
Posted at Jan 23 2021 11:32 PM
Inatasan ng Italian data privacy watchdog ang video app na TikTok Biyernes na i-block ang account ng mga users sa Italy na hindi beripikado ang edad matapos ang pagkamatay ng 10-anyos na batang babae na gumagamit ng app.
Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ng watchdog na kahit siniguro ng TikTok ang pagbabawal ng registration ng mga may edad 13 pababa, madali pa rin umano ito malagpasan.
Dahil dito, blinock ng TikTok ang mga unverified user accounts hanggang Pebrero 15 habang naghihintay pa ng karagdagang impormasyon.
Ayon sa tagapagsalita ng video app sa Italy, ina-analyze na nito ang komunikasyon na natanggap mula sa mga awtoridad.
“Privacy and safety are absolute priorities for TikTok and we are constantly working to strengthen our policies, our processes and our technologies to protect our community and younger users in particular,” ani ng tagapagsalita sa isang email.
Patuloy ang paglago ng TikTok, na pagmamay-ari ng ByteDance sa China, kung saan karamihan ng gumagamit nito ay mga kabataan.
Ibinaba ng watchdog ang utos nito sa TikTok matapos mamatay ang batang babae sa asphyxiation sa Palermo, Sicily.
Ayon sa magulang ng nasawi, sumali sa tinatawag na blackout challenge sa TikTok ang batang babae kung saan maglalagay ito ng belt sa leeg nito at hindi hihinga habang nire-record ang sarili.
“TikTok was her world. And YouTube. That’s how she spent her time,” ani Angelo Sicomero, ama ng nasawing babae.
Imbestigasyon sa kaso
Nagbukas na ang mga prosecutor ng imbestigasyon sa posibleng incitement to suicide at tinitingnan na rin kung sakaling may nagtulak sa batang babae na sumali sa naturang challenge.
“The watchdog decided to intervene as a matter of urgency following the terrible case of the 10-year-old girl from Palermo,” ayon sa mga awtoridad.
Dagdag pa nito, bawal na ang TikTok sa “further processing user data for which there is no absolute certainty of age and, consequently, of compliance with the provisions related to the age requirement”.
Ayon sa isang opisyal, ang ibig sabihin nito ay hindi na maaaring mag-upload ng videos o makipag-interact ang mga unverified accounts sa TikTok.
Dagdag pa ng Italian data privacy watchdog, naglabas na ito ng pangamba sa TikTok noong buwan ng Disyembre kung saan mayroong mga violations at alegasyong bigo ang kompanya na protektahan ang mga menor de edad.
Anila'y iniakyat nila ang kanilang pangamba sa mga awtoridad sa Ireland matapos ianunsiyo ng TikTok na sa Dublin nito patatakbuhin ang European operations nito. -- Isinalin mula sa ulat ng Reuters
Ottman Azaitar has been released by UFC after his camp violated COVID-19 protocols ahead of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, UFC president Dana White has said.
The unbeaten 30-year-old Azaitar, who has a 13-0 record, was set to fight American Matt Frevola but was cut after UFC discovered an unauthorized person had entered the bubble with help from the fighter's camp.
"He and his team cut their wrist-bands off and got them to people on the outside, one guy," White told MMAJunkie.
"This guy got inside the bubble, went in through a room, shimmied down four balconies, went through his (Azaitar's) balcony, and dropped off a bag of we don't know what.
"Then he changed his clothes and went back outside of the bubble. We got everything on camera, we saw the whole thing, how it all went down, pulled his fight and cut him."
Frevola will now fight Arman Tsarukyan after the Armenian's original opponent Nasrat Haqparast pulled out due to illness.
The pulled fight reduces the number of bouts on Fight Island to 11, headlined by former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor taking on American Dustin Poirier on Sunday. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru)
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